Image Map

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A nigerian sister, back to Islam.

Assalaam alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh!
My Journey back to the Deen.
My name is --- (As nice as it would be to disclose my name, it’s best and safest to stay anonymous).  All I can say is I am a twenty-two years old Nigerian (southern part) born-Muslim (but not from practicing family). My journey in Islam has been a long one.
My U-turn back to the Deen was in 2011 (1432 AH). I remember it was the beginning of my final year in the University. Subhan’Allah that year has been the biggest year of my life. Alhamdulillah!
Prior to that time, I was a caged little girl. I had been caging myself really badly over a very long time – locked in the cage of my own inhibitions, afraid to come out. I was caged and struggling to be free, yet no way out. I felt helpless. Sounds like riddles, right? Let me unbridle!
I was typically like the average next-door girl around you. A pretty normal childhood! My teenage days held the most knots.
I attended an Islamic/Muslim secondary school (or high school as some call it), and Islamic University too (MashaaAllah). My was basically where I got most of the knowledge of Islam that survived me through the University. Being a Muslim University, one could expect that my knowledge of the Deen will grow, but amazingly opposite was the case. So you  can imagine the little knowledge I had of the Deen even though I was around ‘Muslims’.
In both institutions (secondary and University), I was given the title  of “Ameerah” meaning “leader of the Muslimahs’ or rather “female religious leader” of all the ladies. It wasn’t because I was outstanding in Deen, but because w’Allah I consider it the Qadar of Allah, as I wasn’t in anyway ideal or deserving.. My University was newly established and private-owned too. So my set was the pioneer set of the Uni. The Amanah of being an Ameerah was tough as I had weak emaan because of my weak knowledge. Little did I know of the challenge ahead of me when I accepted for the sake of Allah to be the Ameerah. And also because, although physically on the Deen, my heart was seriously attracted to the dunya. I was around 15-16 years old as at then. I dreamed  and yearned for the glitters of dunya. It was tough to combine the sincerity & commitment to the Deen, with the heart’s attachment to the dunya. Both cannot reside in one heart, one would have to expel the other.
I loved Islam. And I knew Islam was the Truth. I wanted to meet Allah with a pure heart. I craved for Him to love me and be pleased with me. I craved to die, being happy to meet my Lord. I just wanted Allah to love and be proud of me.
But my heart had its many loyalties!
Other than Allah….
Or was it ‘alongside with Allah’?
Basically I desired two things from the dunya: Beauty and Attention. I was drawn to the attractive beautiful ladies. I was envious of the attention they got from the boys and girls. I was basically an average girl socially and I just never fit in among the popular ones. Yet I admired the attention they got. They could get whatever they wanted anytime, and they could speak in any manner that they pleased, without anyone unnecessarily questioning them. On the other hand, I was rather the much quiet, shy, passive girl.
I remember anytime I was walking on the road along with my sister or any of my friends. It was surprising yet EXCRUCIATINGLY painful and annoying to find a bunch of guys chasing after the girl beside me, calling her aside to talk to her, while leaving me all alone standing and waiting. It’s crazy, I know! But it’s true! This happened so many times. I wondered what was wrong with me. I felt deficient – unbeautiful! Yet I knew I wasn’t ugly (lool). So what was wrong? It deflated my self-esteem I won’t lie.
Something else complicated my problem! TELEVISION! The movies, music, ads, etc. It enslaved my heart to love….searching for someone great to love me, celebrity adulation (subtle form of worship), slavery to fashion and beauty, singing, looking glamorous, and every other crazy teenage obsession, subhanAllah! How on earth could I have discharged my duties as Ameerah successfully with all of these evils in my heart??? IMPOSSIBLE you say? I concur! It was absolutely impossible!

As much as I craved and loved Allah, I couldn’t say for sure that I loved Islam. How can you love something that you have no true knowledge about? So I couldn’t really say I loved Islam, though I BELIEVED! Everything I personally loved was Haraam. This haraam! That haraam! Gosh why couldn’t we be free? So many restrictions! Why?” That was how I felt anyway. I seriously wondered why most of my desires were forbidden by Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala). What was wrong with singing and music? Why couldn’t I attach false hair to my hair (coz I love long hair and Nigerians mostly have short hairs lool), why must we wear the hijaab? Why so many haraams? So many rules! I felt claustrophobic (astaghfirullah!)
I had so many questions concerning my Deen. I needed to explore. To ask. Yet my position as the Ameerah kept demanding excellence and perfection from me. No one was there to teach me what I truly needed. The people were expecting much from me. And I had nothing but little to offer. I’m sure you’d be wondering why I didn’t quit the post. Well I tried so many times.  But Allah didn’t permit it. What was I to do when my heart wasn’t religious? I only knew that I craved Allah that’s all. All my secondary school knowledge of Islam was fast diminishing due to no replacement. I observed the ‘hijab’ as a duty only and not as an act of love and devotion to my Lord.
This went on for a very long time until the semester before my final year. I began to think this is sheer hypocrisy. I never wore hijab at home. And mind you, my ‘hijaab’ was a scarf covering my head, neck and a tiny lil’bit of my chest. I still wore short skirts and tops. Yet at home, I never even put on this ‘hijaab’. ‘cause I didn’t like it. I was a complete regular girl at home. I felt like a hypocrite. Well I guess I was! I wondered how the people of the University would react if they saw my lifestyle at home. I was tired of the façade. Discharging my amanah of being Ameerah felt like a huge burden day after day. I suppressed the real me. Like I locked my real self up in a compartment, in order to meet up with the responsibilities of Amirahood. It was tough. I was deficient. Yet they didn’t remove me from the position, despite so many other better sisters around who could perform way more effectively than me. Allah really wanted me to remain the Amirah . I felt drained and exhausted. I became depressed. It showed in my actions. I was so psychologically depressed for months. People began to see me as a sadist. This had to stop. Who was I living for???
I realized I was leading double lives – conflict of interests….switching between love for Allah and love for dunya….playing Amirah at school and acting non-practising ignoramus western girl at home. With my knowledge of Islam sapping away, and desires creeping in, until it overcame my heart. I’d had enough. I was tired of pretending. I was fed up of my hypocrisy. I had no idea who I really was anymore. Who am I? I didn’t know!
I needed to search. To find my true self! My purpose! My distinct individuality and identity! My Deen! I needed to explore, to learn, to find, to discover. ANSWERS!!!!!!! KNOWLEDGE!!!! So many rules in Islam, WHY? Does Allah expect us to be perfect? So many questions!
I wasn’t turning back on Allah. In fact, I was taking the other way to reach HIM….to find Him, to find myself! To know the secrets of this dunya – secrets or reasons behind some of the prohibitions in Islam. I was tired of dogmatic blind-following. I needed knowledge. The Truth! I knew Islam was the Truth, but “That’s clichéd already! Tell me something else!”. I was tired of the clichéd ready-made answers of people (Muslims) around me. My questions were deep, so I needed deep answers. No one was ready to go deep. Perhaps they didn’t really know!
I wasn’t questioning Allah’s Authority for His Rules. I just wanted to know ‘why’! What’s the secret? There has to be reasons why Allah prohibited Muslims from so many western norms. There has to be answers. And I wanted to know. I genuinely wanted to. I was ready to learn. But this time, not classroom teachings. I wanted Allah to teach me Himself, as nobody could make me know except Him. I wanted to be more devoted to Him. I wanted to KNOW!
So I prayed!!!
I prayed for Him to teach me and show me the Truth, reveal to me some of the secrets/wisdom….the evils behind western norms and practices…why does Islam negate 99percent of it? I prayed that He please make me not die until He showed me those realities, guide me to the Straight correct Path, and He becomes really pleased with me. I prayed for a happy Ending (Death). I prayed to be happy and bright, rather than the melancholy and gloom I was feeling. I prayed for a truthful constructive final year in the University. I prayed! I prayed!! I prayed!!!!
And I tell you, my duas were answered – each and everyone of them, and even more! Allah showed me the filthiness and darkness of this dunya. He taught me!!!
But at what expense?
After I decided to break free from hypocrisy, I stopped pretending to be the ‘good Amirah’.
My dressing changed. I wore my jeans and uncovered my neck and chest in school. I just wanted to see what was there in the western fashion that obsessed many of us. I wanted to know. I stopped doing most of my Amirah-duties. I committed lots of sins (astaghfirullah ). I broke free from hypocrisy into open sinfulness. Of course I was nervous of people’s judgments, yet I needed to let them see how weak and sinful I really was. I needed to show them that my heart was no different from theirs. I desperately wanted to resign from the Ameerah position. I asked people to call me by my name rather than the perfect title “Ameerah”. I always felt terribly guilty everytime I was addressed by that name “Amirah” I wanted to be relieved of the burdensome expectations of leadership, and switch into a role of simple humble membership. By Allah’s Will, Allah said NO! They didn’t take me off this position, nor relieve me of this title. FRUSTRATING!!!!!
All the while as I broke ‘free’ exposing myself to sins upon sins, I was growing, I was learning. I was embracing the ME that I’d imprisoned inside me for years. I was embracing my weakness and imperfection. At the same time, I was learning. I was growing. I felt happy yet sad. I felt so free (letting out myself), yet lonely. I felt close to Allah (for my truthfulness), yet extremely FAR from Him. It was all mixed feeling. But I was proud of it. It was the biggest achievement in my life. Because it was a decision I consciously made. Not to please anyone. But to know myself more, and discover Truths. I was changing! ALLAHU AKBAR!!!
I began to realize…..when I wore short tops, I always took along a long scarf to tie around my neck, to cover my chest and bosom (but not hijaab style lool). Later on, I felt uncomfortable with opening my arms. Then the jeans….it felt suddenly disgusting and ugly to me, seeing every girl in their thin-legged jeans, tight ugly clothings. Did they actually think they looked beautiful that way? That was how I realized the ugliness of my ‘current’ dressing then. I began to get drawn to hijaab. Celebrity pictures that occupied my phone suddenly became hijaab pictures. Over time I felt the urgency to cover. And believe me, the next time I wore the hijaab (after my long break from it), I felt like the most beautiful and honorable girl on earth . I was changing!
As for music and its likes, Allah showed me the filth and deadly evils that lies in it. I realized music, movies, media all contributed immensely to my hypocrisy, corrupting my heart and instilling doubts in it concerning Allah and the realities of Islam. I found them to be so deadly and wicked that I got scared, SubhanAllah.
All that I prayed for, Allah showed me. All my endless questions, Allah gave the answers. I discovered the reality of dunya. He showed me the hidden attributes of dunya and I saw nothing great except abyss of darkness, deception, blindness, ugliness, slavery, loneliness, etc. The dunya is a small piece of hell. Subhanallah!
All along!
That was how I got to realize that Allah had been protecting me all along. Allahu Akbar! By turning ‘useless’ boys away from me! Not because I wasn’t beautiful or good enough, but because He wanted to protect and preserve me. He ‘tied’ me down with the Amirah position to protect me as well. Because without it, only Allah knows how astray I would have gone! Alhamdulillah. He indeed has been my Rabb – nurturing me with great love and care, slowly towards higher stage of emaan with time. Alhamdulillah!
My final year was the best and most productive year of my University days. I radiated smiles, peace, happiness from within. I found what I was searching for (true path of/to Allah). I found myself. I found Allah. I found my Deen. ALHAMDULILLAH!
After graduating from the university, as soon as I got home came Ramadan 1432 (2011). My connection with Allah was strong, my wounds were fresh. I felt sinful and ugly. I hated myself for all I’d done. I was full of Tawbah. I was always fearful. And I used that Ramadhan to cure many of my heart’s ailments (most of which is classified under hypocrisy). I restrained myself from many desires. And Allah showed me many more truths, which made me feel so blessed and humbled. Restraining desires was tough. But I feared Allah calling me hypocrite and not believer. I felt Allah so close to me. He scolded me, soothed me, gave me hope, threatened me (to abstained from sins and desires). All of these through the Qur’an. He spoke to me through the Qur’an, and several signs around me. I felt Him so near. He became the closest friend to my heart such that no one else mattered to me anymore. All those I’d loved were all departed from me anyway. I was all alone with my Rabb. It was more than enough! I felt Sakinah (Tranquility) that Ramadhan!

That was 1432AH (2011). Up till today, I still struggle on this journey. Emaan goes up and down, Allahu a’alam! But practice of the Deen keeps getting stronger, alhamadulillah! Today I find myself struggling on the Path of Sunnah, may Allah help us all. And for each level of my emaan, Subhanallah wa bihamdihi, Allah keeps blessing me with the much needed resources to keep my emaan going to the next level, such as knowledge equivalent to my emaan, righteous companionship, etc. these blessings are awe-striking. Alhamdulillah!  But the journey isn’t over!
My heart has settled upon TRUE ISLAM. Surrendering to Allah is my goal! I am pleased with Allah as my Rabb, Islam as my Deen, and Muhammad (salla’Allahu alayhi wa sallam) as my Prophet. I realized that the reason why many of us born-but-not-practicing-Muslims (here in Nigeria) are like that is simply because of the (weak) foundation we were given (a vast majority of us suffer seriously from lack of knowledge), our corrupt environment and companionship, and our so-called (astaghfirullah) Imams and preachers who call to Islam in a way that overwhelms & avert the heart to Islam. Rather than calling to Allah with adequate correct knowledge of the Deen and focusing on correction of aqeedah, tawheed, describing emphatically the beauty of the Sunnah and the Salaf, and all other foundations of emaan (faith), they simply preach mixing Islamic beliefs with the tribal & cultural beliefs&practices, such that the truth is not clearly distinguished from falsehood. Only few preachers actually teach and call to Tawheed. You then wonder why so many people are ignorant of the True islam, running away from it, simply because they just cannot find any inspiration or peaceful beauty in the cultural corrupt ‘Íslam’ that the Muslims are practicing. I’m pretty sure (bi idhnillah), if all of these are corrected, Muslims will find their tranquility in practicing their Deen and serving Allah the right way, except whom Allah wants to misguide.
As to my question back then….
I can now confidently (bi idhnillah) tell anyone who I really am. If you ask me who I am, I’ll simply say:
“I am the struggling and sinful slave of Allah who has
No honour/dignity, except the honour/dignity of Islam
No voice or willpower, except the voice and willpower of Emaan
No confidence at all, except the trust in Allah
I know nothing, except what He teaches me.
I own nothing, except His blessings.
And I am contemptible, insignificant and not deserving of love,
Except the love that Allah (by His infinite Mercies) places in the hearts of His creations towards me.
This is who I really am!”
ALHAMDULILLAH FOR ISLAM! It is a blessing that a million of this dunya cannot weigh against!

Islam has been a tremendous healing for me, Subhan’Allah! All that I sought from dunya such as Beauty, Attention have automatically faded away and replaced. Islam said my beauty lies in my Emaan. The disease of craving the people’s attention (such as love, fame, respect, praise) has now been replaced by the light of haya (modesty- which is an embodiment of genuine humility and Ikhlas to Allah). Emaan (faith-Tawheed), knowledge, haya (modesty), akhlaq (manners), and so many other virtues is what have blended together within me, to detach my interests from anything of this dunya. I have learnt about Tawheed (I’m still learning though). Slowly, Allah guided me to the beautiful virtuous Sunnah of His Rasul (SallaAllahu alayhi wa sallam). All of this makes me feel so beautiful to the soul , though iknow I have to STRIVE to earn that (lool). All that I hated with regards to Islam, has become most beloved to me Allahu Akbar!
With Islam, I am not that cowering girl I used to be. But everytime I take Islaam (surrender to Allah) away from my heart, the cowering timid girl returns. Islam is really my dignity. It gives me that firm resolution, that respectable identity, being that strong-willed woman of substance and virtues and purity, who would never settle for anything less than pleasing her Rabb, her Creator, no matter how vile/sweet the creations may be. It’s such an honour! It’s beyond words But every single time I seek other than Allah, directly or indirectly, I end up becoming more humiliated than earth . The Aqeedah of Tawheed (singling Allah out in all forms of worship, reverence) is deep-rooted, so strong you can never reach its end, Allahu Akbar! It reaches the depth of the tiniest minutest matter of the heart. Allah is Al-Lateef-ul-Khabeer (The Subtle, the All-Aware of the most hidden inconspicuous things). Allahu Akbar! We really cannot hide from His Majesty. May Allah not expose our shame in this life and Hereafter, Ameen!
To all my sisters out there (born-Muslims especially), who are struggling really hard to find their place in the Deen, being overwhelmed by the endless lists of haraams, I can only say one thing: if you are sincere, truly sincere in your search for Allah, then you will find Him (bi idhnillah). Just one thing: Don’t ever condescend the Truth or those who follow it. When you genuinely love those who love and obey Allah, it’s only a matter of time before you become like them (bi idhnillah). Watch out for those you regard as companions, or those you love (because they can either help you to Jannah or push you to the Pits of Hell). Love is enslaving. So the most honorable love is love for the Sake of Allah. That way you’ll love them because you love Allah, and hate them also because you love Allah.
As for sins, don’t ever stop weeping and repenting. Don’t ever stop asking your dear Lord for eternal cure. The dunya false desires? Deception of dunya? Be inquisitive for the truth! Have a searching heart! Always be ready to know what lies in the indepth (hidden beyond the surface). You need knowledge of your Deen, be friends with knowledgeable smart righteous people. No righteous companions? Remain secluded from the evils/corruption of the people, think of Allah, and PONDER over His Signs, REFLECT! Be Truthful! Stay away from anything that takes you away from Allah – anything that makes you forget Him or forget yourself. In’shaa’Allah, you’ll find your way!
And one more thing! If you are really sincere in seeking Allah’s Love, then you must be extremely humble to the earth. You must see yourself as the worst person on earth such that you see everyone as better than you. You must think constantly of your ugly sins and faults, and feel very ashamed and lowly. You have to hate and reproach yourself always, even when you seem to be doing good. Fearing and thinking of Allah all the time in humility. You’ll observe that those who love Allah and whom He loves back are like this! And much more!
Learn about Tawheed (worshipping Allah in oneness), correct Aqeedah! It is the foundation of Emaan, without which all other acts of worship and good deeds will crumble and tumble into dust. You cannot escape it if you truly seek Allah (The Exalted).
So ma shaa Allah this is my story! Everyday is a huge struggle. Just one mistake or negligence or deed can push one on his face into the HellFire (na’udhubillah), so the war against myself and struggling isn’t over. In fact, it is just the beginning. Please keep me in your duas and others like me, and the entire Ummah.  Jazakumullah khair for reading to the end despite its length #sigh#. I hope you benefited from it even if little. May Allah bless you, and unite us all smiling under His Shade on that Day, and honouring us with His Jannah al-Firdaus. And may He make it easy for us to practice what we say. Ameen! I love you all fii’Allah!  Assalaam alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A sisters story..

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa baraketuh. 

May this message find you in the best of health and eman. I saw on your blog about sharing our stories on how we came to Islam. So....
I would like to share with you my revert story. My story is kind of a 2 n1.. as it includes not only on how I became a muslim, but also my marriage to my husband.. as he is a major part of this story.. I hope that this is ok.. *:) happy inshaAllah *:) happy

So I kind of have to role this story back to my early childhood and explain to you my back ground as it has a lot to do with my reasons of exploring other religions which eventually lead me to Islam. Please forgive me if it is too long.. *:-O surprise

 I grew up in a Christian home.. but both of my parents were not  what you would call practicing  Christians.. my step-father who adopted me at the age of 4 was from a Lutheran Christian background.. which is a sect of Christianity that broke away from the Catholic church.. but all in all still behaved very similar to them. My mom grew up as a Southern Baptist.. but preferred the Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs rather than other forms of Christianity... as she doesn't eat pork and doesn't drink wine and smoke... and doesn't celebrate many of the "christian" holidays. My family all in all is very mixed on different beliefs and traditions of the Christian faith.. and some relatives were complete disbelievers altogether, as they did not believe in any religion. So for me.. as a young child I was always curious about the world, and about religion.. I questioned everything around me and tried to understand what I did not understand.  Christianity  for me, at a young age did not satisfy me.. I did not believe most of what I was being taught.. And in fact I did not agree that God would need to have a son in order to save us from our sins.. I used to always ask these types of questions to my mom and to other relatives.. but many times I would just get answers from their own opinion or conclusions rather than from the Book.. as they like to call it ( Bible).
As I grew older.. now in my very early teenage years.. I started reading about other religions. Most of the religions that I read about were earth-based religions.. ( paganism.. wikka and druidism.. hinduism. ) When I found that this too just didn't make any sense whatsoever to me. I began looking onto other religions.. in between my searching, I would be invited to various different types of Churches and Christian sects.. and again none of it gave me answers that I was looking for.. Why are we here.. who is God.. does He exist..? and so on. 

I have 3 kids.. two of whom are boys ( 9 and 7.5 yrs ) and one girl ( 2.5 yrs ). I had married my sons father at the age of 16... he was 18. My then husband was born and raised in a Roman Catholic home.. His mother was a very devote Catholic and his father was not.. He would go to the Church for Christmas and Easter but that was about it. I tried to understand the Catholic ways and traditions.. as they have many rituals.. but something inside told me NO.. I did not believe God is 3 in 1 type of thing. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.. I didn't like that they seemed all too similar to the paganism I had learned about years before. My then husband was more interested in Buddhism.. so since I was soul searching I thought to learn with him.. My ex was more into learning about it then I was.. I tried, but it just really did not interest me.. And again I felt lost. 
So I just kind of forgot about religion for sometime and just lived for the dunya. My then husband and I decide to move to Houston, Texas as my sister had offered me a very good job with a very good salary.. I was tired of living in the little city that we were in and I thought it would be better for me and my husbands marriage to get away from all of our friends and the society that we were in. 
We moved there to texas and my older sister and I became closer then we ever were before. Our kids played together and her and I attended church every Sunday. I hated going to Church as I saw that they were just tricking people into spending money on the church rather then having anything to do with religion or religious teachings.. How could you call it a church when girls were wearing short shorts and short skirts.. kissing boys in the bathrooms.. Women showing off their vanity.. and men watching the young girls like vultures.. It made me sick.. and all this they claimed was "Christian".  I went only because my sister felt that she could "save me" .. 
 My sister, our children, our husbands and myself all took a trip to the beach.. We were driving through the city of Galveston.. when we happened to drive by a big masjid. ( I had no idea what a masjid was.. what religion it belonged to or anything about it ). While driving past it, I was admiring the building and how pretty it was. When my sister said with the most hateful look on her face, " They shouldn't allow places like this in America!". I was stunned and shocked. I became angry and defensive with her. I told her, "How can you say such a thing when the 1st Amendment of our  Constitution  says,  Freedom of Religion. That means everyone regardless of what religion you  have, have the right to practice it the way you please." She didn't agree and tried to say some excuse that it was the right for Christians to believe in whatever way they choose. I told her NO, you're wrong!!! As it would have said in the Constitution.. Christians of whatever back ground have the right to practice their religion.. but it didn't say that.. I asked her why she has such a hatred for this place.. and she said, "Well you know they're muzlims.." I, to be honest knew nothing about Islam.. the only thing I knew was the name Usama Bin Laden. :) Anyways the conversation eventually ended with a strange silence.. as I could not convince her that these "muzlims" as she called them have no right to be hated nor their places of worship.. and she could not convince me either of her opinion. A few weeks later her neighbor was having a house party.. where neighbors come over and get to know one another.. Most people were drunk already when I arrived.. My sisters then husband was a former US solider who had been in Iraq twice during Bush's so called "War on Terror".. He was a lucky one to have come back home in one piece. :) He hated Muslims and he hated Islam.. so anytime a conversation would come up about either, he was quick to say something negative.
One of my sisters neighbors began bashing the Qur'an and talking about how evil it is and how Muslims treat their women bad. I got irritated with the conversation and asked her if she ever actually read the Qur'an. She told me no.. that her father had and he is a Pastor at a church..I thought to myself.. well go figure.. a Pastor of a Christian church bad mouthing Islam..
 At this point I became interested in Islam.. I wanted to know more about it.. and what all this fuss is about.. I hated Bush from the start and was against all that he had been doing.. I already was out spoken against his administration and his illegal wars.. publicly and privately.. surprisingly enough, it never made me think about what Islam was.. All this time during all my independent research.. I never stopped to ask myself.. Who are these people that America has been so oppressive to and what it is really about?... I, during this time was an independent investigative journalist ( did this just as a hobby and not as a career ) and had done many researches and written about Donald Rumsfeld, different corporations who have strong connections with the American Military,  private security firms and many various other topics. I studied about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.. and began to read a bit about Islam.. but soon my interests would be put on hold as my then marriage began to fall apart.
I got a job promotion.. and started working longer and extra hours.. I hated coming home to my then husband.. so I tried working as much and as long as I could. I used my work as an escape from the issues that I had in my marriage. I felt alone and helpless. As I did not want to turn to my parents for help.. and my then husbands parents wouldn't understand. I got stuck in the glamor of the dunya.. as I began to make more and more money.. but the more that I made the more that I began to lose. I got involved in things that I do not wish to mention and wish I could forget.
 I filed for divorce from my then husband while I was still in Texas... I stopped talking to him and took my sons.. I took them where he could not find them.. I lived ok for sometime.. but soon found that my new situation became worse then it was when I was with my husband. So scared and defeated I returned back to my then husband and we reconciled and decided not to divorce. We thought it be best to return to the small city life that we had left behind years ago and have the support of our parents to help us through our marriage.
I went to counseling and I tried so hard to make the marriage work. My kids all this time and through all this hardship never felt that anything was wrong.. I tried my best to hide any of the pain that I had. My then husband started behaving the way he was before.. And although I tried to love him and I had supported everything he had ever done.. good and bad.. I just couldn't anymore.  My sister had moved back to Florida as well by this time..
  I was so unhappy with life.. I had everything.. loving and healthy kids, a good family, a husband from a wealthy family, but I still felt empty.. so empty. I felt alone, the most alone I had ever felt in all my life. I started asking God.. Please help me, Please help me, Tell me  where I'm supposed to be, Tell me what I'm supposed to do.. Almost everyday I was asking this. Until one day after my then husband had bought a Buddha statue, Looking disgusted at it (the  statue) .. for some reason I thought.. ISLAM... It just clicked and I began reading a little more about it.. it was difficult for me at first.. as when I would google Islam I didn't find many Islamic pages or forums that had decent information.. believe it or not.  I learned about facebook.. and made an account. I had no friends on facebook other than my then husband.. I didn't even no how to use facebook and until one day I received a friend request from my current husband. I was curious.. I was thinking I know that the name Ahmed.. is a Muslim name. So I sent him a message and asked him, "Why did you send me a friend request ? Just Curious". He answered and told me he didn't know..So I asked him of his religion.. and he told me he was a Muslim.. I didn't tell him at first that I am reading about Islam.. I told him that I was still studying Buddhism.. LOL But everyday I kept asking him about Islam.. and then he would tell me.. I secretly started learning how to pray the salah and I started wearing hijab.. while all this time.. I was living at my then husbands parents home.. they hated what they were seeing.. although my hijab was worn with full makeup and jeans and a long sleeve shirt.. they knew that I had began studying Islam.. They asked me if I had become Muslim.. I told them no, not yet I'm just trying it out.. My then husband and I became as if we were on the opposite sides of the world.. the more that I learned about tawheed the more I became in love with Islam.. and eager to learn more. Finally after all these years of searching I had answers to the questions I had been looking for since my childhood. Alhamdulillah! Allahu Akbar!
 My then husband and I had been fighting and arguing everyday... I had enough this time and told him that I was going to stay at my moms. I returned back to my parents and lived there with my sons. I needed a job as I didn't have one.. I filed for divorce again.. and this time I was serious.  I tried getting a job with no luck as no one was wanting to hire me wearing hijab. Even old friends who I had been employed with before would not rehire me. Many of my old "friends" who I had grown up with stopped talking to me.. and even my mom criticized me for wearing the hijab. She told me that I would never find work and the small town she lived in was not very accepting to seeing such things. Let me remind you, I was dressing like most American's.. with full makeup.. and people still gave me a look of terror. So since I had no support and the Muslims that I did happen to meet were not practicing themselves.. I thought it was ok to take it off and find work. :(
Sure enough after the hijab came off and I was back in my stilettos, I found work :/ I started working for the Florida State Government in the Department of Revenue. The more that I read into Islam the more I would feel guilty about my life.. Now that i was working 5 days a week, my sons were staying with their father during this time to go to school rather then staying with me.. I had them on the weekends. I felt that my sons lives were secure.. and that maybe if I go to Egypt I could become a better Muslim. My eman went up and down up and down.. As the only "Muslim" friends I had come out to be not so good. None of them prayed, some of them drank, and most of them acted like American's.. This is not what I was looking for and this was not the Islam that I had been reading and learning. La howla wa la quwetta illah billah

 I had stayed in contact with Ahmed and made arrangements to come to Egypt. My divorce had finalized and I was no more Amy Notman.. I went back to my fathers last name, Wilson. I researched all that I needed to do in order to stay in Egypt and what documents I needed with me. I saved money and bought a ticket. And a few months later I would be ready to leave for Egypt. Ahmeds father felt pity for me as he knew I was going to come to Egypt and live in a hotel until I found another way of living and he knew that I wasn't coming with luggage and I would have to buy clothes and everything once I got to Egypt..So Ahmed's father agreed that I could stay with his family on condition that I marry Ahmed. I agreed. :) Alhamdulillah
  I left the US without telling my family, as I new that if I were to tell them, they would have prevented me from leaving. The last weekend with my sons I told them my goodbyes and how much I love them.. and no matter what anyone tells them, I love them. Marcos asked me what was wrong.. but I couldn't tell him. I kissed my sons and hugged them tight and told them my last goodbye. 
The next day I would be traveling to Egypt. I had never been on a plane before, I had never traveled outside the US. It was all so new and liberating for me. I called Ahmed when I was in Amsterdam to tell him I was about to leave for Cairo. I met him about 2:30am.. his younger brother had come too. While in the taxi I felt somewhat shy.. as I had never seen him other than in a picture. I was shy to look him in the face and he too would hardly look at me for very long.. we sat in the taxi all the way to his fathers in silence. We left the airport and went straight to his fathers flat. I didn't know what to expect. I couldn't believe what I was doing. But it felt right. I entered his fathers flat with his father and his step mom greeting me with large hugs and kisses on the cheek. They made me feel like family. His father's english was broken english but it was good enough for me to understand and he could understand most of my talks. They told me to shower and then come to eat.. I went to the bathroom to find that their wasn't a shower or bath tub.. I had to ask Ahmed how Im going to take a bath.. and he showed me a bucket and the faucet. LOL SubhanAllah. I took my bath :) Got dressed in clothes that Sayeda had provided for me. And ate a full Egyptian dinner :) MashAllah. By the time we finished eating I was exhausted as I had traveled for two days continuous.. I went to go lay down in bed when I heard the athan for fajr. I had never heard it like this before.. not in real, just on videos. Allahu Akbar I began to cry. And when I heard the athan it made me more eager to confirm that I was Muslim. Ahmed took me to Al Azhar to get myself officially documented as a Muslim and then I began wearing hijab, we got married and had a small party at his mothers home.. family came over and greeted me. We did not have music or any of that stuff, I didn't wear a white gown.. It was just a simple party with food and family. Ahmed and I were also officially married by the civil courts as well..  Ahmed spent all his savings on helping me with paying the residential visa and all that I needed to stay legally in Egypt. He spent all his savings on me. Ahmed was not rich nor close to being rich.. his family was more mid- to lower class.. but with good hearts. I didn't care about any of the materials of this dunya.. all I cared for was learning and how to please Allah. SubhanAllah Islam has taught me how to be a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor and most of all how to be a better servant to Allah. Allahu Akbar. These things I will never trade and never give up inshaAllah.

I did by the way contact my family to tell them I was in Egypt after I had arrived. My parents were angry with me as you can imagine.. but months later they calmed down and were happy for me and Ahmed. They felt that he was a good man and they saw how happy I was. So now my mom and dad love Ahmed both very much and my mom now asks sometimes about Islam.. she doesn't want to convert.. but at least her curiosity is there and inshaAllah Allah will guide her.  I try to talk to my sons via webcam once a month.. but Im still not on good terms with their father or his family.. and that's ok. At least they allow me to talk with my sons and that is good enough for me.

My husband has helped me a lot in the Deen.. He helps me to learn how to recite the Qur'an properly he taught me how to pray the salah properly and so many other things..and inshaAllah, he will be rewarded for this. My husband is alhamdulillah educated in the Deen and Im so thankful to Allah that I have him as a husband. I'm not sure if you have ever heard of Sheikh Mostafa Salama and Sheikh Abu Zhar Abdul-Monim? My husband had studied under them both for some time.
I know that the way my husband and I met is not in any way Islamic.. but I consider it a blessing.. as Allah allowed me and gave me the courage to come to Egypt with just the clothes on my back and to learn the Deen of Allah and better myself as a Muslim and actually become a real Muslim.. He also helped my husband.. as my husband before him and I met got stuck in the dunya.. and went away for sometime from practicing the deen.. After him and I married he began praying in the masjid again.. reading the Qur'an.. teaching the Qur'an... and above all this, helping me and supporting me. Allahu Akbar. Allah is the best of judges... and inshaAllah this was considered a Mercy for both of us.

So this is my story.. I know it was very long.. but here it is.. :)